Is a Costco (or Club) Membership Worth It?

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by on July 15, 2010

Is a Costco (or Club) Membership Worth It?

Ways to save at on food with a Costco Membership!

I recently received a 30 day pass to Costco in the mail. Since I’m not a current member, I figured this was a great opportunity to check it out and see if the annual membership is worth it…


My hesitation is the annual fee – I’m not quite sure it is worth it. Plus, do we really need to buy in bulk? But my curiosity peaked when I heard that Costco is offering a variety of organic products. Since I’m constantly on the look out for bargains on organics, I knew I had to check it out.

Things I liked (and would buy) at Costco:

  • Gas – Amazingly the gas at Costco was $.40 cheaper than the gas station by my house (only 1 mile away). If you travel a fair amount, this could really add up.
  • Organic products – Yes, this is one of the biggest reason that I went to the superstore, and I was very impressed with what I found. Here are some examples: organic chips, peanut butter, jelly, juice drinks, pasta, coffee, and more…

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  • Wine – If you are a wine drinker, Costco has a large selection and the prices are pretty good. My hubby’s favorite wine was $5 cheaper at Costco than at Total Wine (a wine superstore).
  • Meat (especially organic) – I found organic chicken at Costco for the cheapest I’ve seen. Those of you that shop for organic meat know that it can be pricey. Organic chicken breast is usually $9.99/lb, so when I found this organic chicken breast for $5.99/lb, I knew I had found a deal!IMG_0272

Things I would never buy at Costco:

  • Toiletries – This includes toothpaste, razors, deodorant, and even hair products. I can get most (or all) of these items at the drug stores for FREE or cheap on a regular basis. Actually, I have a pretty nice stockpile, so we don’t ever run out of these necessities. IMG_0262This toothpaste was $9.99 for a 3 pack- NOT a good deal, especially since I can get Colgate for only $.50 this week at Fry’s (and many times you can get it cheaper than that!).
  • Books, movies, or music– With the deals that I constantly find at Amazon, I would not spend the money on these entertainment purchases at Costco. Especially if you are using your Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards- you can get some of these items for FREE.
  • Household Cleaning Products (unless you need bulk) – These are more products that with coupons and a sale you can get for cheap.

I also received some great feedback on my Facebook page, so if you are contemplating a membership, you may want to check out what others have to say, too.

Your turn- Do you have a membership to a superstore? Do you recommend it? Or do you find it a waste?

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  • We have a Sam’s Membership and don’t shop there very often, but we really like the quality of specific items we can get there – like all-natural chicken for a reasonable price, produce, and (as you mentioned) organic items. Our location also sells lots of clothing at DIRT cheap prices throughout the year – like sweet little Carter dresses for $4 – $5 each, or women’s tank tops for $3, or men’s dress pants for $5 (yes, really – and they were good quality too). So while it isn’t the best deal overall for our family, it is worth it for us to be able to have access to those specific items, especially since lots of them are difficult to find in our small(er) town.
    .-= Alecia @ Savings & Stewardship´s last blog ..Zulily- Up to 70 off Name Brand Items for Moms- Babies &amp Kids =-.

  • Desiree

    One of the areas where they have really good bargains is pet supplies/food. If you have a pet, especially one who (like my dog) needs better quality food for health reasons or if you buy stuff like treats; Costco (not so sure about the others) can save you a small fortune.

    It might not be the best deal price wise, but if you live in one of the areas where your local Costco roasts coffee, their coffee is amazing (and very reasonable for what it is). I also highly recommend their hotdog stand for a cheap & quick meal as you leave (the pizza is good too, just not quite as good a bargain).

    Now that Costco is carrying so many organics, I might have to think about renewing that membership I let lapse… The organics I buy cost a lot more at regular stores (I could easily make up the membership just on organics even if I never bought dog food).

  • You can actually buy stuff at Costco without a membership. Just buy a Costco gift card (even if just for $10). As long as the gift card is used as part of the payment, it counts as your membership card for that order.

    I’m not sure if it works for the gas station, but it does work in the store.
    .-= Cori´s last blog ..Free Worlds Best Cat Litter =-.

  • amanda hall

    I love to coupon but I LOVE Costco too! My favorite thing about them is their warranty/return policy. We buy almost all of our big ticket items there (portable dvd player… computer… camera), just because we know if anything goes wrong… they will take it back. We have the Costco amex card so most everything we buy is warrantied for up to 2 years. I also really like some of their clothes deals. My hubby loves their dress clothes, I think they have a great price on most of their kids stuff… and there is sometimes cute womens clothes too.

  • Tasha

    I have done this before (This may not work for all departments… like gas or photography) But this is great, saves the membership fee. I think you can buy them at the local grocery store.

    Let me just say also that Costco/Sams has the best deals on photo cards for Christmas or birthdays. It its an amazing deal

  • Meg

    Did you know that you can sign up for the executive membership $100 – this is the one that earns you 2% cash back. If you don’t earn $50 in cash back – bring your year end statement in to the front desk and they will give you a gift card for the difference in what you earned and the standard $50 membership so that you never pay more than $50/year. I am an executive member because I get my auto insurance through their provider. I save $500/year on my insurance plus as an executive member I receive the free roadside assistance at no charge – this is the equivalent to AAA coverage. They also come out with a coupon book each month with some really good deals on food products. I would also ask if there are any perks for becoming a member – I did this and received a special coupon booklet in the mail within 30 days of registering with over $30.00 in free product coupons. While I don’t do a ton of shopping at Costco I am a member primarily to save on the member exclusive perks.

  • Susan

    We love our Costco membership! I coupon but there are some things we get at Costco that aren’t available elsewhere and here in Phoenix we have a “Business Costco” which caters to restaurants/C stores. The restaurant supplies alone are incredible values! Plastic glassware (which doesn’t break on our tile floors!) 6 pk for $4…….we also get gourmet individual salads for Hubbies/daughter’s lunch that are amazing! And @ $2.50/pc. really good value. Half and Half half gallon for $2.50, similar savings on heavy cream, veggies diced or not…..lunch packs of veggies/fruits/some with pretzels. Lunch prep is a breeze.

    Also their meats are so good! Excellent hamburger for $2.49 #(yummy), we buy Hormel lean Pork roasts in 4 pks. for $16 ($4 per roast) put in the crock pot for a day and have pulled pork which is the best ever! Tri tip in bulk! And this is truly restaurant quality meat.

    Thrifty Ice cream 3 gallons for about $12 (have you ever had Thrifty?) Cheese is super cheap, sour cream a 3# Daisy for$3 something. Butter cheaper than any store near us…Garbage bags cheap…and things like lined lunch bags for back to school. Books are cheaper than Amazon for most titles.

    And even though not cheap: the most amazing cinnamon rolls ever from their bakery and I challenge you to find a better custom cake!

  • Erin

    I second the “Executive” membership! Since Costco is the closest grocery-type store to our house, we shop there frequently! We’ve gotten at least the cost of the membership back every year (usually more). Plus, with the coupons they send out almost monthly, I find a lot of things to be a really good deal.

    Their organic selection is great. Also, their price on rice milk (which my daughter needs) is the best I’ve found yet. They are coming out with more and more products that are earth-friendly and people-friendly, such as their eco-line of laundry detergent (which was also rated a top-pick by Consumer Reports). I love their line of body wash and shampoo that is paraben and sulfate-free, something I’ve had a hard time finding with free/cheap toiletries at other stores.

    Their return policy and practice is fantastic!!! Since the quality and the price are usually good, too, we try to buy all of our electronics and small appliances there. Even the clothes are great price and quality (mens dress pants and shirts, especially), but if there is any problem, returns are NO HASSLE! And if you don’t have your receipt, they can find your purchase-price using your membership card.

    On top of all of this, the samples are a fun treat, a cheap date, and a great way for me to see if my kids actually like some of the food before we buy it! :) I could go on and on, but the cost of our Costco membership is totally worth it! (Especially since we get it all back in the rebate!)

  • Michelle W.

    I would LOVE to know if this works at the gas station. We used to have a membership but only used the gas station. We figured out we didn’t save enough a year on gas to pay for the membership. I did find this on the Costco website about their cash card…

    The Costco Cash card features include:

    *A convenient payment option in our warehouses, gas stations, and costco.com
    *No expiration date
    *Are rechargeable at any Costco warehouse location
    *Can be purchased in denominations from $25 to $1,000
    *A supply card or gas card for businesses
    *A means to provide students with money for food, gas, or school and dormitory necessities, while being able to limit their spending

  • Pingback: Sam’s Club: $20 Gift Card with Membership()

  • Costco/Sams Club is a goto place not only for families trying to stock up and save money, but many restaurants follow suit.

    The typical American family only has enough food in stock to last 3 days. How fragile are we? What if the daily deliveries stopped.. how long would these stores be able to hold a stock?

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